As I'm sure many have noticed my blog and activity on my Facebook page have been pretty few and far between the last several months! Honestly I have no idea where the summer and fall have gone!! Well, the cat's out of the bag as to why I've been so absent, so figured it was only fair to share it with my Crafty Natalie supporters as well! We are expecting our second this spring! And wouldn't you know that the week before we found out we were pregnant we put a deposit on a lot for a new house! Sooo...baby and new house will be within a month of each other! Talk about exciting times! That said I know I've been asked on numerous occasions about why I am scaling back on custom orders and why my shop isn't getting restocked as often! Well, between the first trimester kicking my butt, and taking care of my mother (who was not in the greatest of health earlier this year) my priorities were obviously NOT Crafty Natalie! But, that's the best part of having your own small shop! You can maintain the pace of workload you'd like and even though I don't enjoy turning people down, sometimes it's an absolute must in order to keep my sanity! I just want to thank everyone who has been so understanding with why orders took longer than normal! I also wanted to update everyone on where I stand with my shop and orders! As of this moment I will no longer be taking custom orders (most likely will not resume custom orders till after the new baby comes and we are settled into our new home). I know this is a long time but between getting our current house ready to sell, getting ready for the new baby, and moving, I can't keep all of my equipment/supplies out! (I know, I'm already going through withdrawals just thinking about it! But the good news is, once we are in the new house I have an entire loft devoted to be my studio! I swear, I have the most awesome hubby ever!) I have a holiday show coming up and then will be listing some items for sale so that no one misses out on any new inventory or holiday sales! And, as always, if you are local, you can always find Crafty Natalie items at EarthWorks Gallery and Gift Shop in Lovettsville!
And, on another note, this was one project I finally managed to work on for myself- B's big brother announcement shirt! I didn't want the typical big bro shirt. I also loved the idea of the "only child expiring" but Pinterest really seemed to kick that trend off that I was a little hesitant of using that as our way of announcing! So I did a slight play off of it and did a sports theme! Since we are a hockey family it was only fitting that I incorporated that into the theme! I had some spare long sleeves and used my Cameo to cut heat transfer vinyl and got started on the design for B's shirt. I used the NHL font for the wording and added the hockey puck into the picture! I also added the hockey player. (The puck and player are both in the Silhouette store for purchase!)
(Sad, I originally wrote this post back in September and am just now getting around to posting it!! Apologies for being so absent on the blog lately!)
Lately I've been seeing this more and more on Facebook pages. Where people will go onto other people's business pages and direct traffic in sales items to their own page/site! Maybe it's just me, but I find this marketing strategy extremely tacky and rude. I may not be running my Etsy shop as a full time job, but I certainly respect others who are!! There are plenty of shops out there who create the same stuff as me, never in a million years would I think that it'd be ok to go onto their page or comment on their pictures telling THEIR customers/fan base to come to my page or that I can make it for them for cheaper!! I realize the internet gives some people the sense of anonymity that they feel this kind of behavior is acceptable, but in reality, I feel it makes you out to be like the sleazy car salesman looking to make that quick buck! I personally try not to support a business who uses these tactics.
Another thing that bothers me is people who take the easy way out and "borrow" (and I use this term very loosely!) other people's pictures! I understand you can probably create an item, and if you can, why not show your OWN work that YOU created?!! Wouldn't you want to know that your item will turn out in similar fashion from the idea that you "borrowed?" And if you've already created it before, it takes all of five minutes to get a picture! Just do your own thing! It makes YOU look BETTER in the end!! Don't you find that going through the hassle of removing someones watermark would take just as much time as taking a quick snapshot of your own product?! I get it, some items are whole sale and you're only left with the factory's images. Even still wouldn't it look better for your business if you simply stated that the image is "courtesy of?" Trust me, I've had pictures stolen off my site before. I understand it should be a form of flattery, but at the same time it sucks. Someone else is getting credit for something that you put time, money, blood, sweat, and maybe even tears into! It's just the right thing to do people!!!!
Next up, craft shows. We've all done them or have thought about doing them. These shows take a LOT of time and energy. Just the way you are going to display your items is challenging enough! My first show I had NO IDEA what to expect, but I got there, sat by a fellow sewist and got some pointers from her! First shows can be so nerve wracking, having someone there you can relate to makes all the difference! Each show, no matter how big or small is absolutely a learning experience! Some items that you sold out of at one show, will sit the entire time for the next show! One of the last shows I did, I was kind've thrown by a couple people who came to my table. One of the first girls that showed up looked at one of my baby sets and was like, "OH, that's soooo easy, I can make this!" I had another person yell across the way to her friend and was like, "You can totally do this too for much cheaper" And finally, the really fun shopper- the one that picks up one of your items, then proceeds to tell it for the entire venue to hear, "I got this from another vendor last year for half the price!" Well, good for you girl, guess you got an awesome deal!! I don't think that most shoppers realize that when they say these things, it's VERY insulting. I get that you might be able to make it, but do you realize that you've just put me down? I don't think my prices are too unreasonable, I've seen plenty of other shops who have sold items similar to mine at DOUBLE the cost! Maybe I'm not confident enough to have such price increases yet, and honestly know what I would be willing to pay for something and feel it's only fair to my customers to charge no more than what I'd be comfortable paying! I've seen people slash prices at craft shows towards the last bit of the show. This drives me NUTS! I understand you probably don't want to haul everything back home, but do you realize that you make handmade look so bad when you've cut your prices to lower than what material costs would even be?! All for the sake of not having to pack up or heck, just make an extra 5 bucks? I had a complaint once that one of my bags was too expensive. It was a larger style tote bag that uses around 3 yards of fabric. I had a pre-made bag in the style she wanted listed on sale for $50. This particular person wanted a custom made one, fabrics that she chose, which were all designer prints averaging $12 a yard (not to mention shipping since I couldn't get the fabric locally). I would also need about a yard of fusible fleece, which generally runs about $8 a yard, as well as 2 yards of stabilizer, which is about $2 a yard. Add on a spool of thread to match the fabric at $3. That brings the total of this particular custom bag to $51. I had quoted the bag at $65 because she happened to be a friend of a friend, but the customer felt that she should only be charged the $50. Mind you, I had mentioned that custom orders may vary in price depending on materials chosen. I told her the only way I'd be able to drop the price that low was if she swapped out her interior fabric for something not as expensive, but she wouldn't budge, and ultimately I couldn't as well. Was it worth it to me to even consider making this bag for barely $15 in profit, no. But I was trying to help a friend out and in the end no one won. I know, a lot of people think handmade should equal cheaper costs, but I think those people who assume that have obviously never shopped textiles before! Yes, of course you can run to your local Joann's or Hancock fabrics and find some fabrics for as low as $4.99 a yard. YES, it's exhilarating to find good fabric at these shops for so cheap!! But, if you've been sewing for a while, you'll also realize that there's a world outside of these chain fabric stores and you start indulging in some designer cuts that go upwards of more than $15 a yard! And then when you discover international fabric- Japanese imports?! YES PLEASE! Yes, there is a difference in the quality. For those of us who sew on a daily basis we can feel it, heck we can smell it! And when we buy that $30 a yard fabric cut, it's like holding gold!! So when we create items out of some of these beloved prints and someone tells you that it's so easy to make or it should be cheaper, it hurts!
And the last thing I have to get off my chest. We all have to learn right?! I cannot tell you how many emails/texts/phone calls I get asking me how to do something. Trust me, I try to keep up with my blog but it's just not possible and life gets ahead of me and I cannot write tutorials for everything, especially because a simple search will give you a bazillion tutorials in whatever area you are looking for! Some of us do this as a full time job. Some of us do it as an extra source of income. Some of us do it as a creative outlet. One thing we probably all have in common is we aren't trying to go broke working on projects and doing the stuff that we love most! My husband pointed out to me the other day, these people, whether they are friends, acquaintances, or perfect strangers are essentially my competitors, so why do I feel compelled to help them out in the extent that I have been. (And maybe that's my own stupidity, niceness, whatever you want to call it, spending hours on ends helping others and ultimately giving up my own work time). Essentially I'm saying, here you go, take what I've spent hours working on and make it out like it's your own. Yes. It's happened. I gotta say it stings just a bit when you've given someone the directions, exact measurements on how to make something that they wanted to create for (supposedly) their child, and that you had no idea they were actually going to recreate for sale purposes! If my specialty WAS creating patterns FOR RESALE then this would not be an issue, but that is not my area!! I'm sure many of us can attest to spending hours on end, cutting, re-creating, throwing away valuable materials, sitting on the computer creating designs to have a final result that you are 100% completely satisfied with! I think a lot of people who purchase handmade forget that creativity also equals TIME!! And, time is not free!
I know a lot of people are looking for flourless desserts so I thought I'd share something that my mom used to make all the time growing up! In Vietnamese it's called banh khoi mi, which is essentially cassava coconut cake! I've made this numerous times this summer as it's one of my nephews favorite treats. I tried getting the "real" recipe from my mom but we all know she doesn't use recipes and just starts mixing things together! I tried as best as I could to get all the real measurements one time and eventually came up with this!
- 1 16 oz package of frozen grated cassava
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 3.5 ounces of sweetened condensed milk (about half a can)
- 1 cup coconut milk (if you want it to be more coconutty, you can also add a bit of coconut cream too!)
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Thaw and drain grated cassava. (The best way to drain the cassava is to use a paper towel to soak up the excess liquid from the cassava).
- Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. You can spray a round baking pan with non-stick spray, or if you'd like a crunchier outside crust on the cake you can butter the pan; pour mixed batter into baking pan.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour.
Back around the holidays last year I came across a product that I thought was really cute and such a great concept! It was a toy car wallet that held up to four Matchbox type cars. I knew this was something I'd eventually want, but since B hadn't turned two yet I didn't know how much I'd need one just yet so I didn't bother buying it. I have friends who have boys and I know it was something that would come in handy because they always had a bag of cars in their purses ready to pull out in those "in case of emergency" type scenarios to keep their boys occupied, especially during lunch/dinner outings!
When we were planning our Disney trip I knew we'd need a backpack filled with activities to keep B busy on the 2 hour plane ride! Him falling asleep would've been ideal, but lets face it, doing something new would be far more exciting than napping! I decided to try and wing it and whipped up this car clutch just a few days before leaving for vacation! I'd made several different types of wallets before so it was fairly easy for me to sew without having a pattern to go by! I was a bit nervous about trying to figure out the pleated pockets, but it actually was a lot easier than I anticipated! I also used fusible fleece and regular interfacing so that the wallet would be a bit stiffer. I think the pockets are slightly larger than I need them to be, but they aren't overly bulky so they will fit some of the toy trains and other larger cars that he has! I'm thinking about tweaking the pattern a bit and adding a little slip in pocket on the other side that way other things can be tucked into the clutch as well! This little toy car clutch definitely came in handy on our trip and B even loved "parking" his cars when we were at the hotel! I've seen versions of two pocket wallets and I'm thinking one of those would be good just to keep in my purse! I'm also in the process of making a "purse" one for little girls to carry their small dollies in! Post on that one coming soon!
I very rarely use our deep fryer, but when I do I have to make sure it's well worth my time! I ended up making home made eggrolls tonight and realized I had a few extra wrappers left, but no more filling! I decided instead of tossing the wrappers to try and make a dessert egg roll. (Obviously I fried these up before our actual dinner since it was a sweet roll and I wanted to make sure that it was in the first batch of oil rather than being fried in the remnants of a more savory roll!)
I remember when I was younger my mom, grandma and aunt used to make fried bananas (chuoi chien) all the time. It wasn't until a few years ago I had had the banana spring rolls from PF Changs that I was reminded of how much of a treat Vietnamese chuoi chien used to be! (Here's a recipe I found in case anyone wants to try it). I decided to do a quick take on fried bananas and turned them into spring rolls like they do in the restaurants instead of batter frying them like the traditional Vietnamese way. I only had two egg roll wrappers left and one banana- which ended up working out perfectly because I definitely didn't need to be tempted with more than one! I sliced the banana in half, topped it with a bit of Nutella, and then sprinkled it with a few cinnamon chips! Then wrapped them up and fried them till it was slightly golden! If I had some vanilla ice cream it would've totally made the dessert, but I didn't and had to settle with whipped cream instead! Let me tell you, these were super yum! The sweet and the crunchy and then mixed with the cold of the whipped cream! DELISH!
Yay for summer! We are just a few days away from heading off to Disney World! We were not planning on going back so soon (as we were just there last February) but when my husband realized he'd have a business trip to Disney, it was hard for us not to tag along!! B and I will be able to play all play all day and hubby will join us afterwards! We are extending the trip too so he'll get a few extra days after the conference to enjoy it as well! Since this is B's first trip where he's old enough to really understand what's going on and knows who the characters are, we are really excited! B is all about planes too and this will only be his second flight! Fingers crossed he enjoys the plane ride as much as he enjoys watching them from the ground!
The thing we are dreading the most is the heat! Disney in the dead of summer is not ideal to me! Humidity can be brutal here in Northern Virginia, but I am guessing it's no where near as bad as what Florida will be like!! Several of my friends actually suggested bringing a misting fan, so when I saw one at the store I decided to scoop it up! (Figured I'd much rather be prepared and pay $5 for one than spend a boatload on one at the parks!!) I found these at my local CVS Pharmacy (I recently saw a similar one at Target but it was $9 there...hoping this $5 will work just as well!) I decided to add a cute vinyl design to it. There are so many pages on Facebook that I belong to, and one group had a ton of Disney inspired themes for cutting! I decided to go with the traditional Mickey Ear with a character cut-out inside. I also personalized it with B's name on it using the Waltograph font that I had downloaded a while back!
I thought it turned out super cute! I originally had cut out the Mickey ears with the Wizard Mickey inside, but as I was applying the vinyl part of the ear had a crease in it from the way the bottle curved. I tried hard to get the crease to flatten out and it just wouldn't budge. Being the perfectionist that I am, it drove me nuts to see that tiny line in it so I ended up removing it and since I had cut out a second image, I figured Goofy would be the next best thing! We added some water into the bottle to try it out before packing it in our suitcase to make sure it worked! It would totally be my luck to get to Florida and realize I bought a defective fan! Ironically, it is actually supposed to be warmer here at home than it will be at Disney, so who knows if we'll even use it!!
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! This summer I've been all about sangrias, and surprisingly enough I've been digging a lot of the white sangrias! A few years ago I had made a strawberry sangria for a get together and decided to make it again for a recent dinner with friends. Except this time I also added some raspberries and blueberries into the mix! Just thought I'd share for in case anyone was looking for something fun to serve this 4th of July!
- 1 bottle of Rose wine (a white wine would work too!)
- 1.5 cups strawberry lemonade
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups of sliced strawberries, whole raspberries, and blueberries (blackberries would also be another yummy addition!)
- 1 cup lemon-lime soda
Pour wine into a pitcher gently stir sugar in. Add lemonade and berries. Add ice and lemon-lime soda just before serving! Enjoy!
I kept seeing these beach drink holders popping up all over many of the craft pages I follow. I think there are two different brands out there, Beach Niks and the Spiker Beach Beverage Holder. Since these are mainly purchased wholesale I wasn't sure how many I'd actually use or sell, and since we didn't have a beach trip planned yet for this summer I couldn't justify buying too many! I was fortunate enough to snag just a handful of the Beach Niks through a private group buy. I think it's a great concept- having something to hold your drink or sunglasses, keys, and sunscreen without getting sand all over! I love the beach, but I def don't enjoy all the grittiness that sand entails! Definitely would make it easier to carry your beach bag around later and not have sand dropping out or finding sand weeks later in the house!
I decided to make a few for gifts. I stuck with one common saying that I used for some skinny tumblers a while back- "Life is better at the beach." This one was simple enough and I just added some flip flops and palm trees to spruce it up a bit. After Googling beach sayings, I found one that I thought was really cute- "All you need is love and the beach." I decided to make the "O" in love in the shape of a sand dollar after seeing one person replacing it with a starfish! Orange and mint is one of my favorite color combos this season, so I was happy to be able to do one of my drink holders in that! Green and bright pink is another favorite of mine, and both are so bright and summery!
With all the popularity of the state love towels, I decided to work on adding some new things to my inventory! I remember when my niece was born she had received a onesie that had a sweet pea on it that said, "100% organic." I know I've seen similar ones with other fruits and veggies on them since then- she's five now! I'm also starting to see some of the state love ones with "organically grown" or "locally grown" on it. Since I had a bunch of extra heat transfer vinyl, I decided to make a few to keep in stock.
I know a few people who are expecting this summer/fall so I decided to make a few unisex sets out out of fabric rather than the vinyl that way I could include a matching burp cloth. (Obviously I can include a burp cloth with the vinyl ones as well, but this way I could have complete matching sets since I know some people would prefer that over non-matching stuff!) I cut out the fabric using heat and bond lite fused to the backside, and then ironed it onto the bodysuit and then stitched it to make sure that it was extra durable and wouldn't wash off. I cut out "locally grown" in a coordinating teal heat transfer vinyl and ironed that directly onto the fabric. Such a simple and cute baby gift! I actually know a ton of people who live an organic lifestyle, so this is such a fun twist on that as well!
A few weeks ago Pick Your Plum had a deal on the cutest water bottles! They are made of BPA free plastic (sturdy and def not flimsy!) and hold approximately 16 ounces. They have bottle cap tops and wrist straps to go with them- which is what I think makes them so fun! I snagged a set of all the colors and a few extras! (In hindsight, wish I had grabbed at least two sets of each color!) It looks as though they were made especially for Pick Your Plum, so I'm hoping that they will bring them back again!
I had received the bottles Saturday morning and by Saturday night I had whipped up a couple of cute ones using permanent vinyl (also a previous deal on PYP- can you tell I'm a fan!) I seriously love my Cameo- makes it so easy to whip things up!
I have been dying to find an excuse to use the raccoon image that I bought from the Silhouette store- originally I wanted to make B a shirt with HTV, but didn't have any gray HTV After going through all the permanent vinyl I had in stock, I was thrilled when I had all the colors to make a bottle with the raccoon on it! I also decided to make one with an owl, because we know I love all things birds and owls! These colorful bottles are so cute for kids, especially with the wrist straps! I thought they'd make great summer gifts- perfect for all the kids going to summer camp or to take on fun outings! Makes it easy for the kids to keep track of their own drinks! The bottle tops are actually large enough that you can even cut a name or initial out and label it on the top if you didn't want it on the bottle itself!